5.1.2 Registrable Maintenance Liabilities & How They are Registered

Context

A registrable maintenance liability is one that can be registered in the Child Support Register for collection by DHS. The Registrar registers a liability for collection by entering details of the liability in the Register.

Act references

CSRC Act section 4, section 17, section 17A, section 18, section 18A, section 23, section 24, section 24A, section 25, section 26, section 30, section 38, section 38A, section 38B, section 39, section 113A

On this page

What is a registrable maintenance liability?

The particular liabilities that can be registered for collection are called registrable maintenance liabilities. A registrable maintenance liability can be:

  • a liability to pay child support arising under a child support assessment (section 17(2)),
  • a registrable maintenance liability to pay child maintenance or spousal maintenance as described 3.1 (section 17(1) and section 18),
  • a parentage overpayment order as described in 3.1.2 (section 17A), or
  • a registrable overseas maintenance liability (3.6.1) (section 18A).

Registering a registrable maintenance liability

The Registrar registers a registrable maintenance liability by entering particulars of the liability in the Register (sections 24, 24A and 25).

The Registrar must register a registrable maintenance liability for collection when a payee notifies DHS of that liability (section 24). The Registrar will not register a registrable maintenance liability for collection if the payee elects for DHS not to collect that liability for them (section 23(3)).

See 3.3 for more detail about the notification requirements and what occurs when the payer or a court notifies the Registrar of a registrable maintenance liability.

The Registrar must register a child support liability for collection when a payee's application for a child support assessment is accepted (section 24A(1)) unless the payee elects for DHS not to collect that liability for them (section 24A(2)(b)). The Registrar will not register a child support liability for collection if the payer applied for that child support assessment (section 24A(2)(c)).

An assessment with a zero annual rate does not create a registrable maintenance liability, and therefore cannot be registered by the Registrar. If, however, a liability does become payable in the future, the Registrar must register the liability (section 24A(1)) but the payee (or the payee and payer jointly) can elect for the Registrar to end collection of the liability (section 38A). Election to end collection is discussed in more detail in 5.6.1.

There are certain circumstances (e.g. a change in care or income) which create a role reversal. A role reversal results in the payee becoming the new payer, and the payer becoming the new payee. A liability that arises as a result of a role reversal creates a new registrable maintenance liability which the Registrar must record on the register (section 24A(1)) for collection. The new payee (or the payee and payer jointly) can elect for the Registrar to end collection of the liability (section 38A).

A payee of a registrable maintenance liability that has not been registered with DHS can apply for that liability to be registered (section 25). The Registrar must register the liability when the payee's application for registration is received. However, there is an exception to this when the Registrar is only notified of an earlier registrable liability after a later maintenance liability (which relates to the same payer, payee and child/ren) has already been registered. The earlier liability cannot be registered except for the purpose of facilitating the recovery of arrears under it (section 25(2C)). This is discussed in more detail in 3.6.2.

Different rules apply if the Registrar has previously registered the registrable liability but ceased to enforce it because the payee elected to end collection by DHS or because the Registrar made a decision to end DHS collection (sections 38, 38A and 38B). In these cases, the liability remains on the Register, but it ceased to be enforceable on a specified day. The payee can apply again for collection by DHS (section 39). The Registrar is not required to accept the payee's application (section 39). This is discussed in more detail in 5.6.3.

If the liability is a registrable overseas maintenance liability (3.6.1) and the payee seeking registration of the liability is resident in a reciprocating jurisdiction (1.5.1), the liability can only be registered where the application for registration is made by or via the relevant overseas authority (1.5.1). Even if the application for registration is correctly made, the Registrar may refuse to register the liability if registration would be inconsistent with international maintenance obligations (section 25(1A), 25(1B)).

The effect of registering a registrable maintenance liability

If the Registrar registers a registrable maintenance liability, the amounts payable under the liability become a debt due to the Commonwealth, in accordance with the details of the Register (section 30(1)). The payee no longer has the right to enforce payment of the liability in a court (section 30(3)), except by instituting proceedings under section 113A of the Act. See 5.4.6.

The methods available to DHS to collect child support are discussed in detail in the following chapters:

DHS pays to the payee the amounts that it collects in respect of the liability. See 5.5 on payments to payees.

Particulars to be entered in the Child Support Register

The following particulars of the maintenance liability must be entered in the Register (section 26):

Particulars of the child support assessment, court order or maintenance agreement that started the liability

The following particulars must be entered in the Register:

  • the payee's and payer's names,
  • the names and dates of birth of each of the children for whom support is to be paid under the liability,
  • the name of any other person for whom maintenance is payable,
  • particulars that show the basis of the liability (i.e. whether it arises from a court order, child support assessment or agreement, and any subsequent orders, assessments or agreements that have affected the liability),
  • the periodic amount payable under the liability in relation to each child or person covered by the liability,
  • the period at which amounts are payable under the liability, and
  • details of any terms or conditions specified in a court order or agreement that may affect the liability.

Particulars about payment periods & payment rates for the liability

The following particulars must be entered in the Register in relation to the payment of the maintenance liability:

  • the initial payment period (5.1.5) (if any),
  • the regular payment period (5.1.5) and whether the liability becomes due and payable each week, fortnight, 4 weeks or each month,
  • the rate of payment in relation to the regular payment period, and
  • the weekly rate of payment in relation to the periodic amount or the aggregate of the periodic amounts if the Registrar will collect payments from the payer's employer.

Particulars about enforceability of the liability

The following particulars must be entered in the Register about enforceability of the liability:

  • the day the liability first becomes payable to the Registrar (5.1.3),
  • the day the liability ceases to be enforceable by the Registrar, and
  • if the liability ceases to be enforceable and later becomes enforceable, each day on which the liability was not enforceable and the day on which it again becomes enforceable.

Other relevant particulars

The following particulars may also be entered in the Register:

  • the daily rate of payment of the liability,
  • a statement of whether the liability is collected from the payer's employer, and
  • anything else that the Registrar considers necessary or desirable.
Last reviewed: 1 July 2016